Gautama Buddha said that each person has 4 wives or husbands in their lives. There is a very interesting story of “A Man and His Four Wives.” behind his concept. Once there was a man who had four wives. According to the social system and circumstances of ancient India, it was possible for a man to have several wives. The Indian had become ill and was about to die. At the end of his life, he felt very lonely and so asked the first wife to accompany him to the other world.
He said: ” My dear wife, I loved you day and night I took care of you throughout my whole life. Now I am about to die, will you please go with me wherever I go after my death?’
She answered, ‘My dear husband, I know you always loved me. And you are going to die. Now it is time to separate from you. Goodbye, my dear.’ Then he called his second wife and begged her to follow him after death. He said, ‘‘My dear second wife, you know how I loved you. Sometimes I was afraid you might leave me, but I held on to you strongly. My dear, please come with me.”
The second wife answered: ‘Dear husband, your first wife refused to accompany you after your death. How can I follow you? You loved me only for your own selfish sake.’
Then he called his third wife and asked her same. She also refused to follow him to death. There was another wife, his Fourth Wife, for whom he didn’t care very much. He had treated her like a slave but he asked her to accompany him. The fourth wife said: “I will go with you. Whatever happens, I am determined to be with you forever. I cannot be separated from you.”
Gautama Buddha concluded the story as follows:
‘Every man and woman have four wives or husbands. What do these wives signify?’
The First Wife
The first ‘wife’ is our body. We love our body day and night. We give food to our body. We take care of our body like the first wife in this story. But at the end of our life, the body, the first ‘wife’ cannot follow us to the next world.
The Second Wife
The second wife stands for our fortune, money, property, fame, position and material things. We are afraid to lose these material things and wish to possess much more. There is no limit. At the end of our life, these things cannot follow us to death.
The Third Wife
Everyone has a third ‘wife’. This is the relationship of our parents, sister and brother, all relatives, friends, and society. They will go as far as the graveyard, with tears in their eyes.
The Fourth Wife
The fourth ‘wife’ is our mind [or Alaya consciousness]. When we deeply observe and recognize that our minds are filled with anger, greed, and dissatisfaction, we are having a good look at our lives. The anger, greed, and dissatisfaction are karma, the law of causation.We cannot be separated from our own karma.
Source: The Buddhist Information
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